The military phase of liberation of Sri Lanka has ended and it would bring a sigh of relief to average people of all communities. The people who were used as a human shields and made to go from place to place, some of the expatriate Tamil citizens who were made to contribute to the ‘cause’ by coercion, and the people who lived with a fear of losing their lives and lives of loved ones to a bomb, are the average people who would be happy to see an end to the military phase.
Now some parties in Sri Lanka, some Tamil expatriates and some politicians in the west manipulated by Norwegians are talking of a political phase. What is this political phase? Would the issues concerning the average people will be solved by a political solution? Would the structure of the political solution be used as a stepping stone to achieve separation? I am sure many celebrating the freedom from the war have several doubts and concerns in these lines.
The truth is the hidden hands of the Tamil national movement are now trying to use the international limelight they got due to the cunning human shield and lies of genocide, starvation, shelling, deaths to pressurize the government for a federal solution. Basically the separatists are now trying to get though losing the war what they couldn't achieve through winning.
The hidden plan is to use the federal status if obtained through the international community as a stepping stone for an Ealam through a referendum or any by another war. The international community will now be parroting the worlds such as ‘discrimination by the majority’, ‘political aspirations of minority’ and other choice terms to pressurize Sri Lanka to concede to a federal solution.
In summary the ‘issues’ raised by the separatists to demand a ‘political solution’ are
(a) Tamils being a community with 70 million do not have their own country.
(b) The Tamils in Sri Lanka are discriminated.
(c) Tamils have political aspirations that should be fulfilled and Indian Federal model is the best or only solution.
(d) Sinhalese will colonize the Tamil areas.
Issue 1: Tamils being a community with 70 million do not have their own country.
This may be true but Sri Lanka is not responsible for that. There are 60 million Tamils living in India and further 10 million in Canada, Malaysia, UK and other places. Sri Lankan does not have to give territory from its already tiny country so that Tamils can have their own country. The ealamists followed the strategies of Jews in creating Israel, the strategies of the separatists in creation of Kosovo and also added new dimensions to the separation campaigns. However thanks to the leadership and the armed forces of Sri Lanka they won the war against all odds. The attention they managed to create at the last stages are now been used to demand a federal solution expecting to use it for cessation later. If a western country thinks that Tamils should have their own country they are welcome to provide territory from their land to establish the Tamil Ealam.
Issue 2. The Tamils in Sri Lanka are discriminated.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka are not discriminated. But as usual in the third world countries lower segments of the communities are discriminated by the wealthy, powerful and the elite. This is prevalent in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and many African and South American nations and not unique to Sri Lanka.
The biggest discrimination to the Tamils came form the Tamils due to their caste systems and regional superiorities. Lower casts were looked down by the higher casts. The lower cast people could not go to a place of worship. Also Jaffna Tamils are considered superior to the Batticaloa Tamils or to up country Tamils. These are the issues that affected the majority of the Tamil population rather than any discriminators coming from the majority Sinhalese.
Most importantly none of these grievances mainly due to caste system or social status will not be solved by a federal system.
Issue 3. Tamils have political aspirations that should be fulfilled. India style federal model is the best
Tamils and many other communities can have political and other aspirations. Muslims in the country also have political aspirations so are the burghers and Malays. This does not mean that Sri Lanka can break the country in to pieces for everyone to fulfill their political aspirations.
Coming to India, has the federal system fulfilled the aspirations of the masses in Tamil Nadu? The influential live in incomprehensible luxury while large numbers live in poverty. Poverty levels in Tamilnadu are higher than that of Sri Lanka. So what do we expect to achieve by giving an Indian type federal system? Who will benefit from a federal system? Are we to do all that so few set of people can become chief ministers, prime ministers, ministers and MPs and have a good life? Will that help all the population? NO it will not. What we and the International community should be keen on is a system or a solution that benefits the masses and not selected few.
Grievance 4. Sinhalese will colonize Tamil areas
What has happened in the last 30 years is that LTTE managed to ethnically cleanse the north of the country from its Sinhalese and Muslim inhabitants. Also if the country is to give equal rights to its people one cannot have areas allocated to communities. In the United States or in United Kingdom there are no states allocated to Spanish or Greeks. Also there are no states solely allocated to Blacks. Hence Sri Lanka cannot be expected to have a state or a region that is solely allocated to Tamils.
All citizens of Sri Lanka should be able to live in any area of their choice and own property and conduct a peaceful life. Other communities have let Tamils live in all the provinces other than North and East and Tamils want the international community to support and help them discriminate against the other Sri Lankans.
Equal Opportunity Legislation solves the grievances (if any)
The best Sri Lanka now do is to immediately implement comprehensive Equal Opportunity Legislation in the same lines as in the western countries that will safe guard the rights of its people. The western countries have implemented equal opportunity acts to safeguard the rights of the racial and other ‘minorities’ and to prevent discrimination. Hence Sri Lanka too should follow suit with comprehensive Equal Opportunity Act to prevent all kinds of discriminations based on age, race, gender, caste, political affiliations, religion etc. As this is what the western world provides for all communities living in their lands and hence they cannot insist for anything beyond this.
Disadvantages of a Political Solution
(a) Any political solution will lead in to further escalation of the issues and pushing in to a separation. Already plans are drawn by the influential separatist expatriates to use the international community to get federal state and later convert to a separate state. Like they used lies and deception to win the sympathy they will invest another set of lies to convince that federal solution is not giving their rights and separation is the only solution.
(b) This will not guarantee any additional rights or benefits to the poor masses but only provide few powerful individuals from the elite classes additional powers and luxuries like it has happened in Tamilnadu.
(c) The lower castes Tamils will be continued to be discriminated by the upper which was the main grievances the majority of the lower cast Tamils had.
(d) Other discriminations such as political will continue as in Tamilnadu where part in power will assist their stooges and no meritocracy in play.
(e) Only benefits the Tamils in the North and not other minorities such as Muslims in the East etc.
Advantages of Comprehensive Equal Opportunity Legislation
(a) There is no risk of suing it as a stepping stone for separation.
(b) Every citizen will benefit and not limited to the higher ups in the economic or social status.
(c) There is no way the lower caste person be discriminated and thereby eliminating a major grievance among the Tamils.
(d) The benefits are not limited to one race but other minority communities such as Muslims and poor segments of the Sinhalese will also benefit.
(e) International community cannot demand from Sri Lanka anything more than the protections they have provided the minorities in their countries.
(f) It will create the society based on merit devoid of any racial, religious, or political bias. This will also remedy many non-ethnic issues of the country such as political favors etc.
(g) No community can accuse of Sri Lanka of discrimination to get sympathy or wage war when equal rights legislation in place.
Therefore Sri Lanka should immediately study the equal opportunity legislation that are implemented in the western world and draft and implement similar legislation as s solution to the issues and to win the hearts and minds of the average Tamil population in Sri Lanka. However the separatists will not be happy with equal opportunity legislation as they were only using a set of ‘invented grievances to obtain the sympathy of the international community.
Implementing an equal opportunity legislation will not be the solution to all the problems., The government has to strategize and implement infrastructure development projects, massive incentives for investments from the state sector, private sector and foreign investments to cerate jobs and most importantly the implement a comprehensive security plan to ensure that the separatists will not regroup and start destabilize again are also critical.
Each friend and patriot of Sri Lanka is responsible to educate the political establishment that equal opportunity legislation is the way to address the grievances if any (and to meet international demands) and NOT any kind of devolution on ethnic lines.
Otherwise the sacrifices made by countless members of the defense forces will be in vain and Sri Lanka will be at square one in 30-40years fighting separation attempts by a state of the federation.
Simply any kind of political solution expecting a resolution, will only push this issue further towards another bout of conflict to until it graduates to a separate state and bring immense sufferings to our people. The same masses who are celebrating the end of the war.